We had the good fortune of connecting with David Malana and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi David, is there a quote or affirmation that’s meaningful to you?
My favorite quote is ““I’m not saying I’m gonna change the world, but I guarantee that I will spark the brain that will change the world.” To me it means that even though I am not blessed with prodigious talent or resources, I still have a chance to impact the world if I live in my truth, resist the urge to quietly cower from my own greatness, and most importantly, trust in the power of teaching and planting seeds that grow in people that you connect, learning through mistakes and experience, and believing in the idea that community is the real royalty and that alone we can go fast, but together…we go far.

Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
Well, for me, art is very much about creation. The creation I am passionate about is not necessarily in tangible things like paintings or statues, but more in the beautiful processes and journeys that can be created between people. For me that has manifested in a lot of ways – basketball players achieving their goals through our training, my nieces and nephews becoming well rounded, free minded young adults through our “funcle” time, international students defying odds to reach impossible dreams not with a savior, but with a bridge for them to walk on their heroic journeys themselves, and now most recently, Black, Indigenous and other people of color blazing a trail in a space that’s been historically taken away from them – the ocean. I am excited to share these stories, and the digital medium I use that allows that has been a wonderful reflection of the human art they have created, I hope. It has not been easy, living the way I do. Most of the time people do not understand my life choices. It’s positioned as not yet grown up, or not in the real world. One thing I have learned though is that my truth is not absolute, but it is up to me to protect it against a world that wants it and me to be “normal.” I want the world to know that Color the Water is an organization that offer free surf lessons and media, and through this simple gesture of sharing we hope to create a paradigm shift that travels thousands of miles to reach coastlines across the world, the same these waves travel to reach us before they exhale their last breath on the shore. With us though, we don’t plan to end where land meets. That is where we intend to truly begin.

If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
If my best friend Justin Lui were visiting, it wouldn’t be an area that I would take them to intentionally. We both travel the world and have lived and worked internationally for over 10 years. More than that, I would want him to see the world of the people I have been so lucky to encounter through my time here with Color the Water. I would want him to meet Liz, who is a superhero in disguise, even from her own self. I would want him to meet Devanté, who has such a beautiful fire inside that both burns and warms with such power. I would want him to meet Jameelah, who floods us all with love and warmth and is beginning to do the same for herself (she would give him a lovely name like ‘boo thang’ as well). I would him to meet Ty and Jas, who are chasing Olympic dreams through surfing despite a tragic accident that left Ty without one leg, and who are paving the way to a path to a world where their gorgeous son Taj does not have to worry about the color the in water. There are so many others… we could travel the world and back in one room with the amazing mosaic of minds and souls that comprise our community, and more than any place I would want to share that with him. Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
I would like to dedicate my shoutout to our Color the Water Surfers. We are all learners and teachers in this, and I wouldn’t be in any sort of position to be here writing this without the trust and faith of the BIPOC surfers who have entrusted me with their surf journey, and along the way become the kind of tight knit family that one can only choose. I’d also like to offer special recognition to Lizelle Jackson, our Co-Founder, and the solid foundation on which this movement is built. Without her, I’d be floundering, and she is as much a reason for the success of this organization as any.

Instagram: @color_the_water

Facebook: David Malana

Youtube: davidmalana

Image Credits
John Suhar, David Malana, Devanté Deschwanden, Rahzizi Ishakarah

Nominate Someone: ShoutoutLA is built on recommendations and shoutouts from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you or someone you know deserves recognition please let us know here.